Kestral wanted to do BD's for lunch again today, and I was pretty game for it. Once everybody was dressed and ready we jumped into the Saab and made our way up to the restaurant. It was nice to see that Sara was working again today, and we were seated in her section. Howard was there along with Chris, and we made sure to say hello to the both of them. I was smart today -- I actually remembered to bring my Atkins-friendly tortillas with. I'd opened a new pack, selected three and put them in a zip lock baggie for the trip up to the restaurant. They tasted great with my bowl, which was sirloin slices with sweet and sour sauce, lots of cayenne and crushed red pepper, some seasoned salt and some lemon pepper as well. Vegetables were the usual bell peppers, onions and broccoli, a bit of Cholua sauce added for spicy flavor. Summers was grilling, and he begged us all to fill out recruitment cards since the new General Manager is setting goals for the store. I'm not sure I agree with this one, but time will tell if he's going to continue like this. He might just be trying to tighten down all the nuts and bolts on his new ship to make sure everything is in its proper place.
We lingered about for a while, talking with Sara and enjoying ourselves. Howard bought dessert for us when he saw Sara making an apple cobbler. Unfortunately I don't get to partake, but it is really neat to see that we get little comps like that now and then. I had to check with Howard to make sure that my inquiry about the hat didn't get Sara in trouble last night, since the rumor mill had it that Ben had made a somewhat snide comment to her last night when she brought the matter to his attention (something to the extent of "This isn't The Gap, honey"). It sounds like she's in the clear, and that's really what is most important to me. If a piece of clothing was going to cause a ruckus I'd rather just be rid of it so that I can continue to enjoy my time there.
We came home to the apartment sometime around 3 PM. I puttered around for a while, then dropped in my Chilton CDRom to see if I could research a bit on my current pickup. I really wanted to get the PCV valve replaced since I knew it was easily work -- I just needed to figure out where the bloody thing actually WAS. Unsurprisingly enough there was a diagram included that seemed to show where it was attached... but either I misread it (unlikely since it was extremely simplistic) or the person who drew it was on some sort of drug because where they said the valve was is NOT where it was. Instead of being under the intake manifold, as they seemed to think it was... it was actually behind the manifold, something I only discovered after a few minutes of work. Finally I was able to trace the hose from one termination point to its other termination, where I located the valve in question. I pulled it out and looked it over -- the check was still working properly, but I figured after 176,000 miles it could probably stand to be replaced, so I put the new one in anyway. Better safe than sorry, right?
The next thing I tackled was the Y-pipe. Since the wrapping I had put on was only half as thick as it should have been things had begun to separate and tear on Friday when I was driving home. I cut the remaining patch off the pipe and took out the second kit I had, applying the full length to the lower and more rusted part of the pipe. I used the wire from the first kit and the second kit to wrap things up, and just had to hope that it would hold. I dragged out the third kit, which was radically different, and prepared to apply it. This one was based more on a Plaster-of-Paris concept, with a roll of gauzy material that had to be soaked in a hardener and then applied in strips. When it was all done it looked like I had applied a cast to my exhaust -- when I told Roho what it looked like he asked me if I wanted him to go sign it. It wasn't nearly as easy to apply as the first one, but it sure looked a lot sturdier. I guess I'll put them both to the test this week, and if the plaster-style one holds up whereas the simple tape-style one doesn't then I'll get another of the plaster-style kits and apply it. I probably should have done the plaster to the bottom of the y-pipe since it's where the biggest hole is, but that's hindsight for you. By now I've got a lot of hindsight about this particular endeavor, so if I ever have to do something similar I'll be better prepared.
After I finished doing the work on the exhaust I wanted to take a shower to get the rust and grease off, but I also wanted to hit the treadmill for a workout. I figured I had better go ahead and do that first so that I didn't end up taking two showers and thus wasting water, soap and time. So I dropped my special edition copy of The Abyss into the DVD player, a disc I hadn't unwrapped until today. Once I set things in motion I grabbed two bottles of water, got on the treadmill and punched up my 60 minute problem. One hour and eleven seconds later I had put in 3.5 miles on the fat-burn regimen and burned over 450 calories. I had sweat pouring off me by the time it was done, but when I stepped off the belt I felt really really good about what I had accomplished. I'd kept up the pace throughout the entire thing, and since I'd given some time for my food to settle before I started abusing my legs I wasn't left feeling too sick at the end. A few weeks of this and I might actually get used to it!
Once I'd showered I went outside to check on the plaster, and things looked like they'd gone pretty well. I talked with my mother for about 45 minutes, starting the engine partway through the conversation to get the exhaust system heated up as per the directions on both kits. I got an update on Priscilla's condition, which was both reassuring and downright depressing. She had to go back on the operating table because the infection was getting worse. It turns out the doctors in Bemiji had missed some of the contamination in her body cavity, which was causing many complications. They added a new drain tube to help keep her body cavity clean and closed her up again. The only benefit of this new procedure was that the UMN-H doctors had a chance to examine her digestive tract and got a better idea of how much intestine and bowel she had left (The original operating team still haven't responded, it seems). What they said was that they thought there was enough intestine left that a few months in the future they could "do something" and try to get her off IV fluids. It sounds like an organ transplant is looming on the horizon. I worry about the costs that are being inflicted here, but at the same time am more worried about her getting healthy again.
I also talked to Mom about the diet and exercise regimen that I've been on. She had a lot of misinformation about Atkins since she'd only seen mention of it in the media hype about how a new diet craze was sweeping the nation and it was based on eating nothing but meat. Once I explained the four phases and the overall mechanics of it to her she had a better idea how it worked and was a lot more accepting of the decision I'd made to get trimmed up. The conversation wavered from Atkins to other dietary-related things, like how American culture has become obsessed with "super sized" portions and how the rest of the world doesn't get servings anything near what we get. No wonder our society is overweight! Americans grumble about getting "ripped off" if they don't get a croissant the size of a paperback book while everyone across the ocean thinks it's perfectly acceptable to have one smaller than your clenched fist. "Jumbo servings lead to jumbo stomachs, that's for sure," my mother said. I had to chuckle a little at that since I do agree -- the mentality has gotten entirely out of hand. It doesn't help that people seem to think that they must clear their plate of every last crumb. I sent away about a third of my omelette at the Continental on Friday because I knew I was full... but so many people out there just won't do that! It's just amazing to me.
After I finished talking to Mom I gave my dad a call at the fire station and talked to him for a good fifteen minutes. I asked about the work on his truck, filled him in on the work I had done on my pickup this weekend and proceeded to go through a bit of troubleshooting with him. It looks like the thermostat housing may be leaking on my engine, which would account for the slow but very steady loss of coolant I've been experiencing for the last year. This should be easy to fix -- pop the housing off, scrape the old gasket free and put a new one on. While I'm at it I can swap a new thermostat in and hopefully resolve this temperature problem. The only obstacle preventing me from just tearing into this project right now is the fact I need to drain part of the cooling system to remove the housing, and have nothing to store the fluid in. I also don't think my apartment complex would look nicely on me for tearing down my pickup in their parking lot. It's not even that major a bit of work, but it sure doesn't look trivial. I will have to consider this for a while and see if I can't find a remote place to work on it by myself where I won't upset anybody.
Outside of that today was relatively uneventful. Tomorrow will be hectic at work, since I have to split my time between the VoIP implementation on the 27 th floor as well as try to get all my ducks in a row. OpenView was supposed to go live tomorrow for parallel testing with our current monitoring solution, but I'm not so sure that'll actually happen. I've had more paperwork thrown in my way with the statement "This needs to be completed before OpenView can be considered production." I swear this company enjoys setting me up for failure, something I only enjoy because I can usually overcome it and triumph on my own merit. I'm not so sure that's going to happen this time, but I'm going to give it a shot.
I've no major plans for the week, but this coming weekend my be interesting since varro will be in the greater Chicago area and has asked if masem and I want to get together to do something on Friday or Saturday night. Since Friday is my usual pool-shooting night and isn't the best for Masem I figure we'll get together Saturday evening. I'm thinking we should spend some Quality Drinking Time at Dave & Busters in Addison. Once we get plans nailed down I'm going to see if it's alright to invite Roho and Kestral along for the trip, since it's been well over a year since we've been there for any sort of group activity. I think this should be fun!
Livin' on Tulsa time